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Massey awarded American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant for 40th year

David Gewirtz, Ph.D., has been the grant’s principal investigator for the last 10 years.

For 40 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has continuously awarded VCU Massey Cancer Center $270,000 Institutional Research Grants (IRGs). The ACS-IRGs are awarded as block grants to prestigious institutions to provide funding for young investigators with an interest in cancer research.

As the grant’s principal investigator for the last 10 years, David Gewirtz, Ph.D., serves as Massey’s ACS-IRG review committee leader, annually awarding seed funding to young investigators at Massey. Specifically, ACS-IRGs are awarded to junior faculty who are within six years of their first academic appointment and without national grant support of their own to pursue basic, preclinical, clinical and cancer control research studies. The ACS-IRG is one of very few funding mechanisms for junior investigators today.

In addition to seed money, the ACS-IRG provides an invaluable opportunity to its applicants. Reviewers can serve as mentors aiding in the development of grant-writing skills and in providing a stable foundation in which to build a research career Through the rigorous review process, applicants receive written comments and suggestions by the review committee that offer guidance with the hope that subsequent applications for externally peer-reviewed, independent funding will be awarded.

“The ACS-IRG process helps to establish and develop the careers of the next generation of cancer researchers,” says Gerwitz, member of Massey’s Developmental Therapeutics research program and VCU professor of pharmacology and toxicology. “This is not just about funding. We’re giving applicants a step up, training them how to write competitive grants. “

Recent examples of research at Massey funded by previous ACS-IRGs include the development of a system for light-enabled delivery of the drug doxorubicin into esophageal cancer cells, in addition to a project designed to develop novel therapeutics for developing a peptide inhibitor of the MBD20-NuRD methylated DNA binding complex. Both investigators, Matthew Hartman, Ph.D., and David Williams, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., respectively, were able to secure further funding from the National Institutes of Health to build upon their work initially made possible by the ACS-IRGs. 

Written by: Liza Janssen

Posted on: January 21, 2015

Category: Center news & funding